The Boatist

Sailboat Ownership, Translation Work and Tales of Minor Adventure

Retire early, be passionate, don't worry, die poor

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Unlucky sailor

Old sailboats are like a history book, as I discovered today.

When I arrived at the boat this morning with laptop in hand, I saw that the rescued Bowman yawl had been moved to the transient dock.

I worked until noon, had lunch and then went over for a look.
Bowman yawl
A classic yawl from Dartmouth
It's a windy sinister looking day, just the right atmosphere for a mystery boat.

I was told that the owner left the hospital in Lisbon and flew home, or maybe somewhere else.

According to Ryker, the lifeboat crew, which is in charge of the boat, came down to check on it yesterday.

Water was sloshing over the floor sole and the boat stank, probably from the soup of water, clothing, food and other items all fermenting in a closed boat for 1 week.

Abandoned sailboat
Clothing, sleeping bag and other stuff was just left lying in the cockpit.
And here is the missing cowl that probably triggered this sad chain of events.
Plugging a cowl hole
Jacket stuffed (not very well) into the ventilation hole.
It makes me sad so see such a nice boat with so much history in this dismal condition.

Transient dock in Peniche
Dock crowded with boats waiting for a weather window. Got a feeling Sea Brigand will be with us for some time to come.

Broken windvane
Notice the ripped sail and broken windvane.
Did a little research and discovered that the sailor is Canadian and had another close call last year when 50+ knot winds unfurled his jib while at anchor in Dartmouth Harbour and his anchor began dragging. I mean, how unlucky can you get.

I don't know your name, but if you ever read this blog my hat goes off to you. How many 67-year old boat owners have the guts to single-handedly sail an ocean on a 46 foot boat.

Rescue video

Portuguese newspaper report about the rescue

English newspaper report about previous rescue during storm at anchor

I found another interesting tidbit on a delivery skipper's CV which states that he delivered the 46' yawl Sea Brigand from Lymington to Barbados in 1983.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sea Rescue

I drove out to the marina after lunch to check the boat and run the engine for a while.

Walking down the pontoon, I saw Ryker brushing his teeth in the cockpit. He's been away since late June so we had a long conversation. He installed an engine in his other boat in France which required working on his knees for long periods. Now his right knee is killing him.

He told me about the carpenter Silva who fell off his bike and died. Actually he fell twice. The first time he refused to go to the hospital and, after regaining his composure, got on his bike again only to fall over dead 200 meters down the road. Goodbye Mr. Silva, you were a good man. He was a friendly and knowledgeable guy and it will probably take a while for his death to become a reality.

Silva was the retired boat carpenter I talked about in the post called The Yellow Sailboat.

Then Ryker told me about the English boat in the photograph below whose 67-year-old owner was airlifted by helicopter 30 miles offshore. The boat, a bare looking yawl, was towed into port where it is now tied to the fuel dock.

Peniche fuel dock
Rescued yawl at fuel dock beside the lifeboat (a box with two huge engines)

The ocean has been rough and the single hander fell on a vent cowl and hurt his ribs bad. Apparently he had no battery power and the boat was taking on water through the cowls...which explains why he was on deck. That's how the story came out anyway.

But it makes sense. It's not hard to imagine. The boat is pounding into the waves, white water is washing over the deck and into the faulty vents. The boarding water creeps over the ceiling headliner and onto the switch panel causing a general short-circuit.

The not-too-young sailor goes on deck with towels in hand to plug the cowls, the boat lurches and, bang, he falls flat across the deck. He painfully crawls back into the boat and faces the fact that he has no electricity, not even to start the engine, and that water is slowly but steadily trickling into the boat that is pounding into the waves and rolling uncomfortably.

What would you do?

David showed up and invited us to his Bavaria for a drink with his lovely daughter. Later I went to Manuel's boat and he showed me the cardboard replica he made of a Beta engine to guarantee that it would fit the space where his busted Volvo used to sit.

I drove home as the sun was setting and had dinner with Ana. Another day in the life of a sailboat owner. Could be worse.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tall Ship Window View

It's been a mad week of work. I'll spare you the details...besides, I haven't got the time to describe how I'm in slave mode in exchange for peanuts, mere peanuts.

The stock market plan is on hold too. I'm waiting for some stocks to take a seriously deep dive, but they're just bouncing around going nowhere fast.

I'm taking a short break because this ship just sailed across my window.

Tall ship sighting
Tall ship going towards Peniche
I know, it looks like a fuzzy box! But peanuts don't buy fancy Canon cameras. It's got all sails up and looked more exciting from here in real life.

I was going to wait for the sun to light up its sails pure white, but I don't even have the time for such a small luxury.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Yellow Sailboat

Why am I smiling?
Is bigger better
Headroom problem, size matters (either me or the boat or both)
I'm actually laughing and smiling. I'm laughing because I can't stand up completely straight in a 39-foot boat (OK, I'm tall, but man the boat is 39 feet long). I'm smiling because it's a beautiful day, I have no work and I decided to be lazy for the day. Lucky dude!

It didn't take long for the smile to evaporate. "Pling," a translation made it's way to the marina through thin air. Nowhere to hide these days. But in truth, work is slowing down and I'm actually not really pissed about getting some.

It was a small job I dispatched in an hour just in time for lunch.

Sticking to my routine, after lunch I scrambled out of my low-ceiling habitat and into a gorgeous day.

I want to show you a work of art built by a Russian boat builder. I call it the yellow rocket.
Amazing yellow sailboat
The yellow rocket
I'd wager nobody has ever built a boat like this one...and never will again. But you never know.

Norwegian tank
The Norwegian Tank
Here's another boat owned by a Norwegian who visits once in a while. He's been working...I mean he's had a retired boat carpenter working on it off-and-on for about 10 years. Interestingly, in all this time he went sailing once during a gale. According to him, its a really heavy boat and needs a lot of wind.

Here's how it went. He, the carpenter and another local headed toward the Berlenga Island under a howling wind. They attempted to reef the genoa but the furler got stuck, thus dooming the sail to a quick and violent flogging death. I can imagine the deafening firecracker-like whiplashing all too well.

So they started the engine. But, in keeping with Murphy's law, the exhaust elbow blew the hose out and started pumping smoke and water into the boat.

There they were, the shredded genoa crackling in the fierce wind, the boat filling with hot water and smoke while being driven toward a lee shore mighty fast.

Time for the dreaded "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday this!!!!"

So the ugly and obscenely powerful lifeboat (which looks like a square box with a cabin) rushes out, throws them a thick line and starts to tow them to safety. Did I mention the gale force wind, the waves and the fact that the boat weighs 30 tons. The line stretched until it was real thin and snapped.

The shore is just spitting distance away...spit travels quite far in howling wind.

So the lifeboat comes around again and this time throws them two thick lines and tows them away from a rocky shore just in time.

Meanwhile, there were a few live media reports saying things such as "boat on fire off the coast of Peniche," "Sailboat sinking outside Peniche" and a few other attention grabbers.

They haven't gone sailing or motoring since then, but maybe they're waiting for another gale this winter.

I feel like a detective today. Look at what else I found.

Inspecting your rig
Back stay of a 36-foot Wauquiez. Notice the stainless shackle linking the chain to the turnbuckle.
In another post I already described how this guy's mast toppled over when the back stay snapped. Amazingly, the boat suffered very little damage and the mast endured the ordeal almost without a scratch.

How long will this shackle last? If the boat sits at the marina or never gets sailed hard, maybe for decades. I zoomed in and the shackle looks larger than it really is and was most likely made in China. According to my parts catalogue, it has a safe working load of about 1,000 kg. The shock force or an accidental jibe will most likely exceed that by far. It will probably last a lifetime and I'm just being a doomsayer.

The best cruising boat
A real cruising boat. If not, it looks the part
Went back to the boat, lay down in the sunny pilothouse and took a shot at learning to use my new mobile phone. It's a Samsung Chat@t322 which I got for 50 euros with 50 euros worth of credit. So, essentially, I got it for free. It takes two SIM cards from different service providers. But look at those tiny keys! My index finger covers 3 at a time and I can't see the letter or numbers stamped on them without glasses and good light, and even then just barely.

Samsung Chat@t322
I zoomed in, it's smaller than it looks.
I had my other 24-euro phone for years and I repent getting this one, even though it was free and will allow me to make cheaper calls. It also takes pictures, so that might be useful some day. See, it's really easy to pluck a justification out of your pocket along with the cash.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Smaller Boat

After an invigorating one-hour bicycle ride to Lourinha and surrounding area, Ana and I stopped at the promenade along the main beach.
Praia da Areia Branca
Praia da Areia Branca, South Beach (plus Ana's hair to the right)
Beach-side cafés
Promenade looking north, the crowd is at the far end by the cafés
A little later, from up top we gazed at the surfers and I thought about Jakatar tied up at the marina on this beautiful day for sailing. I thought of how I don't get excited about 2-hour sails going nowhere and all the work it entails in getting the boat ready and then packing everything up again. A small boat would be fun, but my 11-ton cruising machine was built for voyaging.

How about surfing, I thought? At my age, I'd feel like a dipstick on a surfboard. Besides, the water is too cold for my taste. The answer is a kayak. I found two second-hand Bic Ouassou kayaks going for 200 euros each. That may be the ticket. Easy to carry on the jeep rooftop, no maintenance and I can take it on Jakatar on my next trip.
Surfing in Portugal
Why stand and fall when you can sit and paddle and keep your hair dry